Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ What is a bail bond?

A monetary guarantee for the court that a defendant will appear each and every time they are ordered to do so while their case is pending.

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FAQ How much will bail cost me?

In most states, generally, ten percent of the bail amount (except for Federal and Immigration cases, which may be as high as fifteen percent), plus actual, necessary and reasonable expenses incurred in connection with the transaction. The court determines the amount of the bond.

Each surety company must file rates with the Department of Insurance. Bail agents representing a company must charge the same, filed rates. A "Rate Chart" is required to be posted in a visible location at every bail bond office.

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FAQ Do I need collateral?

That depends on you, your bail agent and the amount of your bail. Every case is different. Sometimes a co-signer is sufficient.

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FAQ What can I put up for collateral?

Anything which you own and has significant resale value is good collateral.

Real estate may be put up based on equity. For example, a house on which you pay a mortgage is considered good collateral up to the difference between it's value and the amount you still owe on the mortgage.

Note that except for a house, items which you have bought on credit and are making payments are not usually collateral unless you hold the title (a.k.a. pink slip). For example; A car on which you have a loan in which the lender holds the title and you make payments is not collateral because lender has a lien on the vehicle. You may keep possession of major collateral items (e.g. House, Boat, Cars, as long as the Bail Agent holds the title (a.k.a. pink slip).

Personal items of high value (e.g. jewelry, fire arms, computers, cameras, stereos) can be used as collateral but normally must be surrendered to the Bail Agent who will hold them in a safe or other secure place. These items are normally valued at their current resale value, not what you originally paid for them.

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FAQ What if the person I bail out does not appear?

The court will issue a warrant and notify your bail agent of the failure to appear. They will assist you in either reinstating the bail with the court or surrendering the person back to custody. If they are unsuccessful, the court will demand the full amount of the bail.

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FAQ How long does it take to get out on bail?

Typically the paperwork takes approximately 45 minutes. The release time after the jail receives the paperwork is generally one hour or less for local police stations and 3-12 hours for county jails. Generally speaking, the busier the holding facility, the longer it takes.

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FAQ What is the consumer agreeing to in the bail bond contract?

The consumer is agreeing to:

  1. Pay the premium for the bond at the established rates.
  2. Provide required collateral.
  3. Pay actual, necessary and reasonable expenses incurred by the bail agent in connection with the transaction. These may include:
    • Reimbursement for long distance phone calls.
    • Excess travel expenses (described as outside of the bail agent's normal scope of business, or into an area where the agent does not advertise).
    • Posting fees (for payment to an agent in another area to physically deliver a bond. An agent should not charge a posting fee for the normal delivery of a bond in the agent's advertising area).
    • Bounty agent/skip tracer expenses (These are usually based upon the amount of the bond).
    • Payment of the bond amount for the defendant's failure to appear.
    • * Attorney fees and court costs.
  4. Keep the bail agent advised of address/employment changes of the defendant or other parties to the agreement.
  5. Aid the bail agent/skip tracers in locating the defendant (where someone other than the defendant has secured the bond).

The consumer should read all agreements thoroughly, asking questions until all items and obligations are understood.

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FAQ What does the bail agent do for the consumer?

Provides an avenue for the incarcerated person to be out of custody until his/her day in court, allowing the defendant to continue his/her day-to-day life until the criminal matter is resolved. The bail agent will provide the following:

  • Receipts and copies of all signed documents.
  • Information regarding the status of the bond and changes in assigned court dates.
  • The status of any costs due, as imposed by the court.
  • Assistance in locating the defendant should a forfeiture occur.
  • Appearance before the court regarding the bail bond when such appearances are necessary (sometimes requiring the hiring of legal counsel).
  • The timely return of collateral upon exoneration of the bond.

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FAQ How long is a bail bond good for, and can the amount be reduced?

Length of the contract: The bail bond runs for the length of the case that is being bonded. However, the agreement may provide for the payment of premium at inception, and upon "renewal" on an annual basis. Once paid, premium for a bail bond is not refundable.

Reduction of Responsibility: Although not usually the case, a court may reduce the amount of bail required. If a bail reduction occurs, the bail agreement should be amended to reflect the reduced exposure of the bail agent and surety insurer. A bail reduction does not result in a refund of premium paid, although it may result in a partial return of collateral. If a bail reduction occurs, it should result in a reduced renewal premium. Under any circumstances, where a bail reduction has occurred, the bail agent and insurer cannot recover more than the amount to which they are actually exposed, plus necessary related expenses.

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